Saturday, August 27, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
“And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.” (Mark 11:13) (NKJV)
Jesus lifted his eyes and saw a fig tree in the distance with leaves on it. He got excited. A fig right about now would really hit the spot. It was time to eat! In that culture, trees on the roadside provided good sources of nutrition for weary travelers. This situation was no different. Mark’s Gospel gives us a little bit of insider information. At the time Jesus walked along this roadside, it wasn't the season for figs.
Jesus was expecting the unexpected and was disappointed.
Why did he expect the unexpected? Because of the presence of leaves on the fig tree. In Palestine, fruit appears on fig trees before the leaves. So when Jesus saw leaves he got excited. Leaves were there. Surely leaves on the tree signified that there was also fruit on the same tree. In fact, the entire purpose of a leaf on a tree is to make and nurture fruit for the entire tree by trapping light energy and converting it to chemical energy. As Christians, we are, as Mark’s Gospel demonstrates, trees in leaf. In other words, we are showing our leaves. We are built in such a way, spiritually, that we are to trap the light of Christ and convert it to energy, in order to produce fruit. That fruit is the fruit of the Spirit:
"...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control..."-Galatians 5:22-23
Please keep in mind, just like the fig tree in the passage:
Jesus requires us to produce fruit in and out of season.
Recession? Produce fruit. Anger? Produce fruit. Sadness? Produce fruit. Frustration? Produce fruit. Irritation? Produce fruit. Tumultuous relationship? Produce fruit. Somebody’s getting on your nerves? Produce fruit. Being mistreated? Produce fruit. Situation getting out of control? Produce fruit.
Do you know that this tree could have enjoyed the privilege of providing Christ one of his last meals before His act of love on the Cross. This passage occurs right before he enters Jerusalem. Instead Jesus was met with disappointment when it failed to meet his expectations.
What kind of tree are you going to be? More importantly, what kind of fruit are you going to produce? When we demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit to others, we meet Christ’s expectations. May we be ever mindful of His great expectations and go to great lengths to properly display our fruit.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit." - John 15:1-2 (ESV)
Monday, August 22, 2011
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
"And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them" (2 Kings 6:16).
Horses and chariots and a great host shut up the prophet in Dothan. His young servant was alarmed. How could they escape from such a body of armed men?
But the prophet had eyes which his servant had not, and he could see a greater host with far superior weapons guarding him from all harm. Horses of fire are mightier than horses of flesh, and chariots of fire are far preferable to chariots of iron.
Even so is it at this hour.
The adversaries of truth are many, influential, learned, and crafty; and truth fares ill at their hands; and yet the man of God has no cause for trepidation.
Agencies, seen and unseen, of the most potent kind, are on the side of righteousness.
God has armies in ambush which will reveal themselves in the hour of need.
The forces which are on the side of the good and the true far outweigh the powers of evil.
Therefore, let us keep our spirits up, and walk with the gait of men who possess a cheering secret, which has lifted them above all fear.
We are on the winning side.
The battle may be sharp, but we know how it will end.
Faith, having God with her, is in a clear majority: "They that be with us are more than they that be with them."
And, He that is in us is greater than he that is in the world!!!
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
The only survivor of a shipwreck came upon a small, uninhabited island. He prayed repeatedly for God to save him and everyday scanned the horizon for his answer. Even though he was exhausted and in despair, he eventually managed to build a little hut to keep him out of the weather and to store his provisions.
Then one day, after searching for food, he came home to find his little hut on fire. The worst thing that could have happened had happened. Everything he had was consumed. In his grief he cried out, "God, how could you do this to me!" Early the next morning, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. They had come to rescue him. "How did you know I was here?" asked the castaway. "We saw your smoke signal," they replied.
I love this little story illustrating how God's providence works. But, do we remember it when the fire is raging? A new friend said something to me a few days ago that was very wise, yet a little scary at the time. She said when a sudden shift occurs do not be moved. She said to prepare even my son's heart for these kinds of changes in direction or routine, no matter how big or small. The truth is that these shifts can be from God working his plan out for our life and not just from the enemy who wants us ruined and off course.
Yesterday, without really realizing that I had had a similar word dropped into my spirit, my son prayed to God to not be moved by any of life's shifts and/or changes this year. He dedicated his upcoming year to God and asked to be a solid and bolder witness. He also prayed not to be concerned with being the popular kid but with being the kid who says and does what's right. Always. A great prayer from an 18 year old!
But, what about all the rest of us? It's easy to get crazy and scared when our 'plan' is interrupted. But, is that faith? Faith is, as Hebrews 11 says, being sure of what you hope for and certain of what you do not see. This promise is much bigger than a shift or change in your day, your month, or your life.
The job you lose, may be the blessing that keeps you home with your kids. The guy who dumps you may be the preparation you need to move on to the one who marries you. The college your kid chooses, may open a door to a whole new world in a whole new city. If you keep your eyes on God. If you continue to abide in Him you will bear the fruit of your dreams and visions.
So, while the hut on your island seems to be burning down pray and praise God for the fact that with the smoke that may be raging out of control, He is sending up smoke signals that will bring the help you really desired.
It has dawned on me recently that God, being a God of love, cannot look upon us and want to see us hurt or distraught. He is love. He loves us. We love, as scripture says, because he first loved us. Nowhere, in the definition or act of love does an intentional infliction of emotional distress occur. We do this to ourselves by losing faith when the fire is burning down our beach shack.
God is not a man that He would lie the Bible says. So...My goal, is to try and stay calm when the floods come, and the fires rage. For God would not lie about caring for me, or you, as He cares for the birds. The goal is to stay in faith, solid and sure, that He that began the work in you will complete it to the end.
Personally, I believe that God would not allow promises and prophecies to be spoken over my life that were not sent from Him. My goal is to not be moved! For, He is my rock and my fortress, my strong tower. Trust in God's promises. And, while this is the goal, continue to pray for a smooth passage across the waters of life...and basketball! Laugh. Because, He knows the end at the beginning and when He is faithful and merciful enough to give you a glimpse into His plan you can take it to the bank and deposit it in an account of faith that's already been opened in your name.
Your challenge today, may be your smoke signal bringing tomorrows help. Embrace the fire and in ALL things give Him thanks and praise.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Life will, without a doubt, bring obstacles, uncomfortable situations, disappointments, pains and hurts. However, what we do with it is up to each of us individually.
We can allow it to hold us hostage and control our every thought and emotion. We can continue to rehearse it, giving it more power over our lives. Or we can make a decision to let it go.
Yes, it hurt.
Yes, they let you down.
Yes, things didn't turn out the way you expected.
Yes, you were treated poorly.
Yes, they were not there when you needed them most.
However, is dwelling on it making anything better? Is rehashing the situation in your head over and over again changing what took place? No, it just causes you to stay in an angry, unforgiving place.
The thought of forgiving the person or people that hurt you may seem very farfetched, but holding a grudge actually hurts you more than it hurts the other party. The process may not be an easy one, but God has sent a helper, advocate and comforter called the Holy Spirit to walk through it with us.
One of my favorite definitions of a comforter is one that runs to your side and picks you up. Therefore, no matter what state you find yourself in spiritually, mentally and/or emotionally, you can lean on the Holy Spirit to get you through.
I often compare a bad situation to a cut or bruise on my knee. There was definitely pain involved in me getting the cut or bruise and there is definitely a healing process that must take place. As my wound begins to heal, a protective scab appears … often times we are tempted to pick at the scab. This hinders the healing process. Yes, the scab can appear to be ugly…but it serves a purpose.
The same is true of our internal wounds – we have to accept that it (whatever your "it" is) happened, clean the wound (forgiveness), bandage the wound (prayer, seeking God’s face) and allow the scab (the Holy Spirit) to do its work and wait for the healing to take place.
However, if we pick at the scab (rehashing the situation over and over and not letting the Holy Spirit be our help and comfort), that wound will never heal or it will take much longer to heal.
So we have a choice … do you want to prolong your healing and stay in a bruised place by continuing to pick the scab away? Or will you let those wounds heal by letting it go and moving forward?